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How the Sensitive Brain Processes Touch

It is assumed that the brain of sensitive individuals works differently. We investigated brain activation while participants were touched by hand. Our results showed stronger activation of the insular brain region for more sensitive individuals.

What It’s Like to be a Highly Sensitive Person

In our study, we interviewed highly sensitive adults regarding how they perceive and experience their sensitivity. We identified six themes that were mentioned by nearly all participants as key characteristics of being highly sensitive. However, there were also important differences in how people experience their sensitivity.

Sensitive Children and the COVID-19 Lockdown

We investigated highly sensitive children’s behaviour during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Sensitive children showed fewer behavioural problems when experiencing a positive and supportive family environment at home during the lockdown.

Genetic Sensitivity to the Positive Effects of Relationship Education

Sensitive people are more affected by their experiences and sensitivity has a genetic basis. We tested whether genetic sensitivity predicts the response to a relationship education programme. We found that individuals with high genetic sensitivity improved more strongly regarding several aspects of relationship quality even two years after attending a relationship programme.

How do Highly Sensitive Individuals Maintain their Wellbeing?

In Western cultures, lay perceptions and norms around wellbeing tend to emphasise being socially outgoing and high-arousal positive emotions, but not all people experience wellbeing in this way. In our study, we set out to explore what highly sensitive people do to maintain their wellbeing.

How Do Sensitive Children Respond to Harsh and Fluctuating Family Context?

We found that unpredictability of the environment was predictive of greater increases in child externalizing problems. Furthermore, children with greater sensory processing sensitivity were more affected by an unstable context, showing greater increases and decreases in externalizing problems when raised under highly unpredictable versus stable context, respectively.

Sensitivity to the Childhood Environment is influenced by the Brain

Theory suggests that differences in sensitivity are due to characteristics of the brain. We conducted a study to test whether certain brain regions predict sensitivity in a sample of boys. We found that boys with a larger amygdala were more sensitive to the quality of their childhood environment.

Does Children’s Temperament Reflect Their Level of Sensitivity?

In our recent study, we examined whether children’s “dove” temperament, characterized by a low threshold of environmental stimulation and greater behavioural flexibility, may reflect environmental sensitivity.

Rumination Contributes to Depressive Symptoms in Sensitive Children

In a study following children from 3 to 12 years, we found that the combination of high sensitivity and permissive parenting increases the risk for the development of internalizing symptoms. Sensitive children who experience higher levels of early permissive parenting are more likely to develop ruminative coping strategies and consequently depressive symptoms.

Highly Sensitive Adolescents and COVID-19 Distress

Highly sensitive adolescents tend to report higher levels of COVID-19-related distress. However, our findings suggest that resilience, defined as the ability to bounce back from adversity, may play an important role in adolescents’ mental health during a pandemic.